Islamabad United faltered when it mattered. They topped the league table with 16 points from eight wins in ten matches, and were unbeaten in the last five outings before the play-offs. Then, the Shadab Khan & Co failed to chase Sultan Multan's 180/5 in the Qualifier on Monday in Abu Dhabi. (More Cricket News)
But the two-time champions still have a chance to make the final. They now take on Peshawar Zalmi, who defeated defending champions Karachi Kings in the Eliminator 1. Winners of tonight's Eliminator 2 face Mohammad Rizwan's Sultans on Thursday's big finale.
What happened in Qualifier
Multan Sultans, who finished second with 10 from five wins, won the toss and opt to bat against United. Despite a poor start, they managed to post a fighting total of 180/5 thanks to a late flourish with Sohaib Maqsood holding the innings together with a 41-ball 59. Johnson Charles and Khushdil Shah were devastating, scoring 41 off 21 and 42 off 22 respectively.
The chase never got off to a start. But Usman Khawaja kept United's interest alive, until the 15th over. The Aussie made 70 off 40, even as veteran Pakistan pacer Sohail Tanvir produced a dream spell, with figures reading: 3/17. Blessing Muzarabani also took three wickets.
And the result, United were dismissed for 149 in 19 overs for a 31-run defeat.
In the league phase, United defeated Sultans by three wickets and four wickets to complete a double. But that didn't matter.
What happened in Eliminator 1
There were four teams with ten points each with an equal number of wins. Net run rate decided the rankings. Multans (+1.050), second; Zalmi (+0.586), third; Kings (-0.115), fourth and Lahore Qalandars (-0.589), fifth. Multans got the chance to take on the league winners, United in the Qualifier, and they did it in some style. Third and fourth-placed Zalmi and Kings faced off for a virtual quarter-final.
Zalmi won the toss and opted to bowl. They restricted Kings to 175 /7 with skipper Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Irfan and Umaid Asif taking three wickets each. For the Kings, current Pakistan national team captain Babar Azam scored 45-ball 53, while's Sri Lankan all-rounder Thisara Perera contributed with 18-ball 37.
Afghanistan's Hazratullah Zazai scored 38-ball 77 as Zalmi reached the target in a penultimate-ball finish. Former Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik hit 25-ball 30.
Head-to-head: They have made 14 times and it's 7-7. In the last meeting, United beat Zalmi by 15 runs. In the reverse leg, earlier this season, Zalmi won by six wickets.
Tonight's clash is a repeat of the 2018 final. In that match, United chased down Zalmi's 148/9 with relative ease at National Stadium, Karachi. They won by three wickets with 3.1 overs to spare.
Match and telecast details
Match: Eliminator 2 of Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2021 between Islamabad United and Peshawar Zalmi
Date: June 22 (Tuesday), 2021
Time: 9:30 PM IST/ 8:00 PM local
Venue: Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi, UAE
TV Channels: Sony Pictures Network
Live Streaming: SonyLIV
Playing XIs in the last match
Islamabad United (vs Multan Sultans): Usman Khawaja, Colin Munro, Asif Ali, Muhammad Akhlaq (wk), Shadab Khan (c), Hussain Talat, Iftikhar Ahmed, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Wasim Jr, Faheem Ashraf, Akif Javed.
Peshawar Zalmi (vs Karachi Kings): Hazratullah Zazai, Kamran Akmal (wk), Imam-ul-Haq, Shoaib Malik, Rovman Powell, Sherfane Rutherford, Khalid Usman, Wahab Riaz (c), Umaid Asif, Mohammad Imran, Mohammad Irfan.
Islamabad United: Shadab Khan (c), Ahmed Saifi Abdullah, Ali Khan, Akif Javed, Asif Ali, Brandon King, Colin Munro, Fawad Ahmed, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Hussain Talat, Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Mohammad Akhlaq, Musa Khan, Rohail Nazir, Umar Amin, Usman Khawaja, Zafar Gohar and Zeeshan Zameer.
Peshawar Zalmi: Wahab Riaz (c), Abrar Ahmed, Amad Butt, Bismillah Khan, David Miller (partially available), Fabian Allen (partially available), Fidel Edwards (partially available), Haider Ali, Hazratullah Zazai, Imam-ul-Haq, Kamran Akmal, Mohammad Amir Khan, Mohammad Irfan Snr, Mohammad Imran Jnr, Mohammad Imran Randhawa, Rovman Powell, Sherfane Rutherford, Shoaib Malik, Umaid Asif and Waqar Salamkheil.